Source: Clarice Feldman


The Greeks used the word “hubris” to describe excessive arrogance and conceit. And they were wise to the fact that it leads to downfalls. Any doubt about that was surely erased by the week’s news where an Ohio jury and an incredibly hardworking, well-organized strategist — the President — put some arrogant prima donnas in their place.

Oberlin and Gibson’s Bakery and Identity Politics

If you want to follow a legal battle by someone who knows what he’s talking about, you could not do better than reading Legal Insurrection, William Jacobson’s website. For some time now he’s been documenting the lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Bakery, a five-generation family bakery near Oberlin College that was boycotted based on false claims of racism after they had several students arrested for shoplifting, a crime to which the students pled guilty.

…a black male Oberlin College student was stopped for shoplifting wine at Gibson’s Bakery and Market in downtown Oberlin, OH. Gibson’s had been in existence since 1885, was frequented by students, and also provided baked goods to the college dining halls. A scuffle ensued that was joined by two black female Oberlin College students accompanying the male shoplifter and apparently acting in concert with him. All three eventually would plead guilty to shoplifting and aggravated trespassing, and would avow that Gibson’s was not engaged in racial profiling.

…students at the college immediately declared that Gibson’s was guilty of racial profiling, and large protests were organized outside the bakery. Flyers were passed out claiming Gibson’s was “racist” and had “a long account of racial profiling and discrimination.” The Oberlin College Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo allegedly participated in handing out the flyers in front of the bakery. The Oberlin College Student Senate also passed a resolution claiming Gibson’s “has a long history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment of students and residents alike.” The college administration allegedly helped spread this student senate resolution.

Students started a boycott of the bakery, initially joined in by the college. The college eventually resumed business with the bakery, but then terminated that business after the lawsuit was filed.

Gibson’s and its owners sued the college and Raimondo for libel, tortious interference with business relationships and contracts, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and trespass. Gibson’s alleged long-term damage to its business and reputation for the allegedly defamatory accusations and other torts.

Perhaps, for those of us who were young once, a foolish action by college students caught up in the social welfare nonsense is understandable, but more is expected of the presumed adults running such places. Instead, Oberlin still arrogantly denies any responsibility, Raimondo has not been disciplined, and to add further insult, the school put on the stand an “expert” who offered up a ridiculously low sum ($35 thousand dollars) for the loss Gibson’s sustained.

The jury saw it otherwise. It granted the plaintiffs $11 million dollars in compensatory damage and this may be raised to $33 million dollars when this week the jury considers punitive damages.

Lee Plakas, who handled much of the month-long trial and who gave the closing argument, said this case “is a national tipping point.”

“What the jury saw is that teaching students and having them learn how to be upstanding members of the community is what colleges are supposed to do, not appease some students who they are afraid of,” Plakas said. “People around the country should learn from this, that you can use the legal system to right the wrongs, even if the one doing the wrong is some huge institution who thinks they can do anything they want.”

It’s foolish to think that this case impacts only Oberlin. Insurance companies are not as stupid as the Oberlin administrators and surely are reviewing the fees they charge colleges and universities for tortious liability claims. Every one of them will pay more. Will this come out of the payroll of the very bloated administrative salaries they are paying? Not unless trustees finally get off their duffs and do their job of fiscal and policy oversight. I do not see Oberlin long surviving this and that’s as it should be. The staff may have cushy, protected jobs but people like Gibson do not.

As Jacobson noted in an earlier post:  “This case is bigger than just this case, and reflects Higher Ed disconnect from the lives of most Americans:

First, from the start of this case I have questioned the aggressive and demeaning attacks on the Gibsons as a defense strategy. There is no evidence that the Gibsons did anything wrong, unless you consider stopping people from stealing something wrong. That lawful act of protecting one’s property nonetheless has devastated a five-generation business because of Oberlin College racial politics. Gibson’s Bakery survived two world wars, the Depression, the turmoil of the 1960s, and the so-called Great Recession, but it may not survive Oberlin College’s social justice warriors and their faculty and administrative enablers. If the jury understands this, the other pieces of the case fall into line, factually and legally.

Second, I never cease to be amazed at the arrogance of the college community as reflected in the defense that Gibson’s Bakery was close to worthless. It’s the arrogance of the credentialed. A business that is in its 5th generation, and that currently supports three of those generations, is something of value. A business that employed almost a dozen local employees prior to this incident is something to value.

Oberlin is already in financial peril. This  should seal its doom — it is likely that Oberlin’s insurers will refuse to pay this claim.

Universities are not the only miscreants in this virtue signaling at the expense of others. There’s a very thoughtful, rather long and philosophical explanation for this scourge of identity politics by Joshua Mitchell who sees it as a movement that adopts the religious concept of the scapegoat to wash away our sins by transferring them to others.

Identity politics does not simply parse different kinds of people. Identity politics is concerned with the relationship of transgression and innocence between different, purportedly monovalent, kinds of people. Identity politics is not just about who we are, it is about a moral stain or purity that defines who we are. [snip]

Those enthralled by identity politics seek redemption by purging the uncleanliness they claim is external to themselves. The white heterosexual male is the first unclean transgressor in their sights; but because the innocence of those enthralled by identity politics must be purchased through the sacrifice of a transgressor, once he has been purged, another transgressor must be found. White women will be next, followed, I suspect, by “heteronormative” African-American men, whose endorsement of the generative family is not sufficiently “inclusive.” That will not be the end of it — nor can it be.

Identity politics must continue to expand the coterie of innocents whose “voices have not been heard,” who have been “marginalized,” or “excluded.” The politicization of the category “trans-gender” is therefore a necessary development of identity politics [snip]

The permanent victimhood of all the identity groups heretofore postulated has not been enough. More innocent identity groups are needed, to add to the chorus of voices that seeks to purge the Prime Transgressor so that their wounds may be healed and their innocence restored.

The Arrogance and Conceit of Foreign Policy “Experts”

In like matter, the foreign policy “experts” decried the President’s ability to handle foreign relations because, after all, he was “just” a  very successful real estate developer and TV personality with no coherent strategy — that is to say, he was ignoring their advice. Time and again he’s proven them wrong, and this week was no exception.

He had a very congenial meeting with the Queen of England, wowed at the D-Day celebrations, and returned home to announce a deal had been cut with Mexico to help stem the tide of Central Americans caravanning through the country to cross our borders.

Congress refuses to act on this influx of illegals.  Obama-appointed judges have done what they could to limit his opportunities to halt it. The media are full of sob stories about the invaders, tarring as “racists” those who oppose them. Experts decried Trump’s threat to impose tariffs with a variety of warnings about consequences — from a rise in Chipotle prices and avocado shortages to a trade war-caused depression. Indeed, the left reportedly was already preparing ads about the devastation to our farmers. Then came the deal — obviously encouraged by our negotiators presenting a list of doable things that Mexico could do and wasn’t.

Mexico will send thousands of their troops to the Guatemalan border and elsewhere to intercept the caravan’s passage through Mexico. Persons arriving from Mexico into our country to file for asylum will be returned to Mexico where they will await processing of their claims, Mexico agrees to purchase substantial amounts of U.S. agricultural products. Two leaders of the caravan movement were arrested by Mexico. Twenty-six funders of the caravans had their accounts frozen. In return, the president “indefinitely suspended” the imposition of the threatened tariffs on Mexico. To those doubting Thomases: Trump cocked the hammer, didn’t need to fire, but hasn’t  yet locked up the pistol.

Those experts who said that nothing could be done and who were critical of the tariff threat are probably drowning their guacamole in salty tears.